Systems Engineering Seminar

Relationship-Oriented Architecture:
A New Paradigm in System Engineering

Presented by:
Tobin Anthony, Director, Engineering Services Division and
Christopher Costello, Director, Engineering Services Division
Shawnee Heritage Government Solutions, LLC

July 10, 2007, 1:00 p.m.
GSFC Building 3 Auditorium


The problem facing the modern system engineer involves development of system architecture as well as ensuring that design meets the customer’s requirements. Conventional system engineering techniques often allow for the divergence of these two tasks. In addition, current techniques lend themselves to inadequate, or poorly documented system engineering products because of the complexity of the model itself or the difficulty of the software used to develop the model. Without a well-documented design, the functional decomposition of the system and its relation to requirements resides only with key personnel having in depth knowledge of system behavior and components. This paradigm can be successful on small, relatively short programs but is inherently susceptible to turnover in key personnel.

Relationship Oriented Architecture (ROA) is a system engineering technique that employs the basic tools of functional decomposition and interface definition, to allow the system engineer to develop an architecture while also responding to the specifications levied by the customer. ROA emphasizes the relationships between the elements of a system. These relationships include those between the conventional elements of a system architecture (requirements, functions, behavior) as well as relationships to unconventional architectural elements (hardware components, test events and procedures, earned value milestones). ROA allows design, test and manufacturing to work from the same set of design artifacts used by program management. The ROA artifacts provide the glue to which an entire program, from cradle to grave, can be built and managed.

The emphasis of ROA on the relationships between services or functions allows the system engineer to focus on system development. Furthermore, ROA is a visually oriented methodology allowing communication of the design through simple, understandable artifacts. Lastly, ROA can be implemented using a variety of software tools. Engineers are free to develop ROA systems using conventional requirements management software or by using simple and inexpensive desktop software such as the Microsoft Office suite.



Tobin Anthony is Co-Director of Shawnee’s Engineering Services Division. Prior to joining Shawnee, Dr. Anthony was CEO of MAE Systems, Inc., an engineering services company specializing in providing satellite system engineering solutions to the government aerospace community. Prior to MAE, Dr. Anthony was the lead system engineer on a classified data system for Argon ST. Prior to Argon, Dr. Anthony led the Attitude Controls Section in the System Space Group at Orbital Sciences Corporation. At Orbital, he also led study teams and proposal efforts that ultimately brought in over $30MM of new business. Dr. Anthony spent more than 12 years at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where he worked in variety of roles on the RXTE, TRMM, FUSE, and WMAP satellite projects. Dr. Anthony holds a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Christopher Costello is Co-Director of Shawnee’s Engineering Services DivisionPrior to joining Shawnee, Mr. Costello was CEO of SJ Systems, Inc., a consulting company specializing in system engineering services for the intelligence community. Prior to SJ, Mr. Costello led the engineering effort on behalf of Raytheon Corporation for the DoD’s Tactical Control System program. Mr. Costello also worked for Orbital Sciences Corporation as a senior engineer on commercial imaging, scientific, communication and interplanetary satellite programs. Mr. Costello has also worked for FAC, Inc. primarily as a spacecraft thermal design engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope and Cosmic Background Explorer programs. Mr. Costello was also the lead developer of the TCON thermal analyzer program, a software application that he conceived and that integrates structural finite element technology and analysis into thermal design practices. Mr. Costello holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Catholic University of America and a B.S. in Mathematics from George Mason University.


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